Symptoms of anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million adults in the U.S., or about 18% of the population, every year. In 2020, The World Health Organization has estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 27.6% increase in depression and a 25.6% increase in anxiety disorders worldwide. If you’ve ever noticed that your moods are impacted by the weather forecast, you’re not alone. Many people experience seasonal depression in the winter or summer months — or both. It turns out that the weather can not only trigger depression but can also exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety, according to research done by the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology.
After long winters, most of us look forward to warmer days, more sunshine, and lots of opportunities to have fun. However, social gatherings, vacations, changes in routine, and physical responses to heat can make any pre-existing anxiety or depression worse. Psychotherapist Ellen Yom notes, “Summer can be especially anxiety-producing for those who have experienced panic attacks in the past.” She added, “The felt physiological symptoms are very intense during a panic attack, so a lot of people with this history can experience higher levels of anxiety during the summer months when the same physiological symptoms (sweating, palpitations, shaking, shortness of breath, feeling faint) are triggered.” “When your body becomes too hot, you may experience symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder,” according to The Lantern Project. “If you do not take care of yourself when the weather is hot, you may find your anxiety symptoms escalating.”
As for how to help prevent and minimize these symptoms, experts recommend staying inside as much as possible during super-high temperatures and humidity, according to The Lantern Project. Aside from that, pay attention to your body’s natural cues. Keep a lookout for symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, intrusive thoughts and worries, fatigue, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and nausea. Anxiety shows itself differently in each person. For some, it can be very obvious someone is experiencing signs of anxiety, as you may see them appearing nervous, scared, or fidgeting. For many others, anxiety is hidden underneath various other actions and emotions. Anger or short-temperedness, changes in appetite, or physical symptoms such as racing heart or stomach and sleep issues can all be present. While the “flight or fight” response is healthy and a natural reaction to stressors, chronic anxiety that interferes with daily living should be addressed. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, it can be helpful to look for underlying feelings and reasons for the anxiety, in order to be informed and cope in a positive way.
While no two people experience things alike, people with anxiety often overthink and overanalyze situations. They may seek reassurance and approval in most aspects of their life. They may fear they are losing control and are scared about what comes next. Someone experiencing anxiety might become withdrawn and delay communication with others. If you or someone you know is looking to cope and get to the root of their anxiety, it is important that you notice and understand the deeper feelings and concerns that are being hidden under these actions.
Stressful situations are going to happen. How you react can determine how these situations will affect you. Challenge yourself to find the facts in a situation and acknowledge whatever emotions and feelings the situation reveals. Doing this increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to cope effectively with a stressful situation. Seeking medical help will also set you on the path to healing and allow you to gain a better understanding of your anxiety concerns. It is highly encouraged that you reach out when you need support, as no person is capable of solving all their problems on their own. If you are looking to get to the root of your anxieties, connect with a provider at RIVIA mind to help create a coping plan that works for you.